The Death Of Faurez

This morning I finished the final section of Barbara W Tuchman’s ‘The Proud Tower’, namely ‘The Death of Faurez – The Socialists: 1890-1914’. Focussing on the international rise of Socialism and the International meetings to further it, Tuchman describes how Faurez became the leading figure in the attempt to unite working men to strike in the event of war. We now know that this was unsuccessful; what I had not previously known was that Faurez himself was assassinated on the eve of Austria’s mobilisation against Serbia resulting from the much more notorious murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s creamy pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Le Chene Noir Cotes du Rhone 2019.

The Wreath-Laying

Last night I finished reading Chapter 7 of Barbara W Tuchman’s “The Proud Tower”, being a collection of articles on the build-up to the First World War. This is ‘Transfer of Power – England: 1902-11. It deals with the beginnings of the rise of Socialism and the weakening of the dominance of the aristocratic landed gentry and hereditary peers.

On a dank-dismal day Danni and Ella dropped in with a parcel shortly before Jackie and I drove to Walkford to meet her sisters and their husbands for the annual wreath-laying on their mother’s burial plot in the Woodland Burial Ground.

Our great-niece protested that she wanted to come indoors, but settled soon enough for

a tour round the garden involving chucking stones into the Waterboy’s shell pool. We left her with her mother as we drove off.

As always, we tramped along soggy paths to the site, where Shelly placed the wreath and we all paid our respects. Jackie photographed the wreath

and the husbands, and I focussed on the wives.

We had begun with coffee and cake at The Walkford and returned after the event for lunch.

The Assistant Photographer photographed the rest of us and I photographed

my brunch and her Hunter’s chicken meal. Our drinks were Abbot’s Ale and Amstel respectively.

Ham sandwiches sufficed for our evening meal.

An Internationally Renowned Work

When, in August 1898, Czar Nicholas II of Russia called for all ‘the nations to join a conference for the limitation of armaments’ cynics mistrusted his motives, believing this was because his nation was so far behind the major powers with whom he would never be able to catch up without such breathing space. We learn this from ‘The Steady Drummer – The Hague: 1899 and 1907’, being the 5th Chapter of Barbara W. Tuchman’s ‘The Proud Tower’.

Tuchman chronicles the two conferences that took place in these years, making it clear that every nation involved, including the US and European in 1907 supplemented at the insistence of the Americans by the Latin-American States, would put their own interests ahead of the others; the strong and better armed belligerents wanted it kept that way; disarmament and arms reduction were out of the question. Some progress was eventually made on the conduct of war, which, of course, would come to be blatantly ignored during the next half century. Humanity’s natural competition, territorial greed, and distrust prevailed.

I finished reading this section of the book this afternoon.

I don’t know when I last read Charles Dickens’s ‘The Adventures of Oliver Twist’, but it would have been before I began blogging, otherwise I would have scanned and featured before now my Folio Society edition of 1984 with

Charles Keepings’s inimitable illustrations sprawling across the pages, the first of which is the frontispiece.

Christopher Hibbert has written a useful introduction. I have not felt it necessary to review such an internationally well-known work.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with tender runner beans. The Culinary Queen finished the Greco di Tufo and I drank more of the Recital, involving an encore from another bottle.

Stygian Skies

Heavy rain fell from decidedly Stygian skies throughout the morning during which I finished reading the fourth chapter, entitled ‘ ‘Give me combat!’ France: 1894-9′, of Barbara W. Tuchman’s The Proud Tower.

I had previously been vaguely aware of the Dreyfus Affair with dominated the decade, but never really understood it until reading Tuchman’s analysis of the schism that split France. Dreyfus was a French army captain who happened to be Jewish and was unjustly accused of selling secrets to Germany. There is now no doubt that Captain Dreyfus was framed by the French military authorities who used forged documents to condemn him to years of imprisonment. It became a national conflict between the Dreyfusards, convinced of his innocence, and those who believed the military should be supported at all costs. Violent anti-Semitism developed and was pitted against those, largely artists and intellectuals, who fought for justice.

I will refrain from offering more details save to say that the ultimate pardon did not come with a finding of innocence. Ms Tuchman describes the physical and emotional violence of the warring parties, which also involved a failed assassination. France, too, had the seething undercurrent which seemed endemic to the rest of Europe.

My mid afternoon today the rain had ceased and a brief appearance of sun had cast a little light over the land.

While I readied myself for a trip into the forest Jackie nipped out into the garden and photographed

raindrops on weeping birch and clematis cirrhosa Freckles.

The chameleon skies were the canvas on which my camera painted

varying tones of indigo and smoky ochres with pink tinges.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s mixed meats and vegetable stoup followed by pepperoni pizza and fresh salad, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank The Second Fleet Cabernet, Merlot, and Petit Verdot Coonawarra 2019.

A Prominent Mainer

This Photograph of Thomas B. Reed is from Sauk Valley Media.

The third chapter in Barbara W. Tuchman’s ‘The Proud Tower’ is entitled ‘End of a Dream – The United States: 1890-1902’. I finished reading it this afternoon. It can be no coincidence that she closed her period with the year in which the gentleman whose portrait appears above died on 2nd December.

A Republican from Maine, the Speaker of the House, this giant of a man in all respects according to Tuchman, dominated the political scene during this decade until the public mood brought about his retirement to his legal practice.

This was a period during which the struggle between the adherents of the basic constitutional principles and the bellicose expansionists resulted in the United States going to war against Spain in Cuba and the Philippines.

Reed had begun by successfully taking on Democrat filibustering techniques and changing the working of the house. He continued his isolated position battling against the popular imperialist tide until he realised he would be no more successful than had been England’s King Cnut.

‘Canute was 40 when he died in 1035. He was also known as Cnut the Great, King of England, Denmark, Norway and parts of Sweden. By the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066 his story was quickly becoming lost to time but his relationship with the tide lingers on.

We can thank the historian Henry of Huntingdon who recorded the story of the tide in the 12th Century. The general consensus is that Canute sat his throne on the beach and commanded the tide not to rise so that his royal presence would remain dry…… 

Apparently Canute was trying to prove a point about Kings and God: ‘Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.’ (

The great man from Maine would have agreed with him.

It is perhaps significant that some United States soldiers in the Philippines perpetrated similar mass reprisals against villages any member of which was believed to have killed one of their men.

Later this afternoon we visited Elizabeth and enjoyed a lively conversation, interrupted by a call from Patrick.

Earlier I had received a similar call from the same gentleman. “This is Patrick”, he said, “I am calling about your Government grant for the lagging you have recently had installed in your loft”. Quick as a flash, because I am attuned to these things, because I hadn’t phoned anyone about it, and because we hadn’t had any lagging done, I replied: “Bugger off, Patrick and try and scam someone else”. He hung up. Had I had more time I might have strung him along a bit, but I wanted to finish my chapter.

Elizabeth’s Patrick may or may not have been the same as mine. “I think you’ve got the wrong number”, she said. He hung up.

This evening Jackie and I enjoyed a second sitting of the excellent Hordle Chinese Take Away fare with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Coonawarra.

On The Brink Of December

On a bright and sunny morning I wandered round the garden in my shirtsleeves.

Individual titles of these views can be found when accessing the gallery with a click on any image. The last two pictures show a Japanese maple before and after it had been pruned by Aaron and his A.P. Maintenance team who also

tidied up some of the beds.

Even a sleepy bee on a cobea scandens didn’t seem to realise that we are on the brink of December.

‘So enchanting was the vision of a stateless society, without government, without law, without ownership of property, in which, corrupt institutions having been swept away, man would be free to be good as God intended him, that six heads of state were assassinated for its sake in the twenty years before 1914. They were President Carnot of France in 1894, President Canovas of Spain in 1897, Empress Elizabeth of Austria in 1898, King Humbert of Italy in 1900, President McKinley of the United States in 1901, and another Premier of Spain, Canalejas, in 1912. Not one could qualify as a tyrant. Their deaths were the gestures of desperate or deluded men to call attention to the Anarchist idea.’ So begins the second chapter of my Folio Society edition of Barbara W. Tuchman’s ‘The Proud Tower’, namely The Idea and the Deed – The Anarchists: 1890-1914′.

This chapter deals with the Anarchism that swept Europe during this period leading to WWI – the theory of the intellectuals and the actions of those prepared to carry out ‘The Deed’ with which it was hoped the populace would be terrified into changing the orders of society. As always in such events, more ordinary people were killed than those for whom bombs or bullets were intended. Interestingly, it seems that Germany, who used the terror tactics espoused by their military theorists to suppress the Belgian people in August 1914, was the major European country least affected by the Anarchists.

Tuchman’s descriptions of the avowed terrorism bears alarming similarity to that technique practiced today. Unfortunately modern bombs are far more destructive than those that were available more than a century ago. Perpetrators are prepared now, as they were then, to sacrifice their own lives for their espoused cause.

The fluid writing in this work is far more literary than that permitted by the requirements of ‘The Guns of August’.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent shepherd’s pie; a leak and pork sausage; roast potatoes; moist ratatouille; and firm cauliflower, carrots and Brussels sprouts with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Coonawarra.

The Menagerist

In her Foreword to her ‘The Proud Tower’, Barbara W. Tuchman states that ‘this book is an attempt to discover the quality of the world from which the Great War came’. First published in 1966, this is largely a collection of previously published writings gathered together. The first, entitled, ‘The Patricians – England: 1895-1902’, describes the powerful ruling classes whose complacency, based on the assumed right to govern accumulated over centuries of inherited position, wealth, and advantaged education, was unassailed at that time. According to the writer their status as leaders was seen to be natural and unquestioned, and would always be rewarded with success. The setbacks of the Boer War came as a great shock.

On a drizzle-miserable day I finished reading this chapter.

Later I scanned a few colour slides from Abney Park Cemetery produced in March 2009.

The last three of this set are of the multi-denominational chapel which has been graffiti-desecrated at the rear, bricked and boarded up. When making these images I was told that the building is intact inside. I do hope some renovation has been undertaken in the years since then.

I have converted those in this gallery to black and white.

The last two, bearing the sculpture of a docile lion, are of the tomb, shared with his wife, Susannah, of Frank Charles Bostock who ‘was part of the Bostock and Wombwell dynasty, famed for the presentation of travelling Menageries throughout the nineteenth century and the first third of the 20th century. George Wombwell commenced this tradition by exhibiting exotic animals from around 1804. This fascination for exhibition informed the emerging trends of entertainment throughout the Victorian period, with all manner of beasts, curiosities and displays of human endeavour on regular display in fixed and floating locations.

Wombwell took to presenting a travelling animal show from around 1805, competing with many other Menagerists of the time. He had a fierce drive to become the most famous animal showman in the country, and his partnership with the Bostock family established Bostock and Wombwell as the country’s leading operation.

The Bostock family were land-owning farmers in Staffordshire. In 1832 James Bostock turned his back on his farming destiny and worked as a waggoner with Wombwell’s Menagerie. His marriage to Emma Wombwell in 1852 saw the start of the Bostock and Wombwell dynasty, all capable and willing animal handlers and showmen. The core axis of this dynasty was the three sons of James and Emma (there were other children also): Edward Henry (EH) Bostock became the successor to running the main show, James William Bostock managed separate Menageries and presented ‘Anita the Living Doll’, whilst Frank Charles Bostock set off on his own direction by touring Europe and America.

Frank Bostock was equally as ambitious as his Menagerie-founding grandfather. In his memoirs he talks about how he introduced the ‘big cage’ to England in 1908 and how he discovered that big cats were wary of the underside of a chair. His time in America possibly led him to doing things differently, with contact at the vibrant Coney Island, and the tradition of ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ pioneered by PT Barnum.

Frank C Bostock arrived in the United States in the summer of 1893 at twenty seven years of age. He set up near 5th and Flatbush Avenues in Brooklyn. It is said that Frank and his family lived in one wagon and had another two wagons housing four monkeys, five parrots, three lions, a sheep and a boxing kangaroo.

It could be said that the arrival of Frank Bostock and the Ferari brothers in 1893-94 (Francis and Joseph Ferari were his partners at the time, they were the sons of Italian-born English showman James Ferari) was the beginning of the touring carnival business in America. The wild animal shows they brought became the nucleus around which many of the early street-fair showmen built their midways.

The elaborate carved fronts of the wild animal shows Frank Bostock brought from England, some of them made by the Burton-upon-Trent company Orton and Spooner, served as the prototype for wagon-mounted show fronts on American carnivals for the next half century’. (

This evening we dined on smoked haddock; Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese; creamy mashed potato; firm carrots and peas with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Nivei white Rioja 2018.

Up The Lane

This morning I finished reading the justifiably Pulitzer Prize- (for Non-Fiction, 1963) winning work ‘The Guns of August’ (1962) by Barbara W. Tuchman. With painstaking research, shrewd judgement, and skilful prose, the author analyses and describes the first month of the First World War. We are so accustomed to books and films about the madness of the four years’ destructive trench warfare that I found Ms. Tuchman’s tour de force most informative.

I knew the war had been sparked off by the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, but had no idea why such a conflagration had followed. This book explains the reason and the method.

Germany had been preparing for war on both Eastern and Western fronts for two decades. It was simply accidental that the blue touch paper was lit in the east.

We learn of the desecration of the Belgian neutrality, the courage of its population; the invaders’ belief in the spread of fear as a method of quelling resistance, and their means of exercising it; the speed of the German advance; the infighting within and between the leaders of the allies.

Tuchman closes with an eye to the following four years. I would have welcomed such a work on them.

The details of manoeuvres would probably be more fascinating to serious students of military history than to me, for I found the passages of descriptive writing rather more to my liking.

My Folio Society edition contains copious notes, clear maps, and two batches of photographs which are not really of good enough quality to reproduce here.

On another comparatively mild afternoon we visited Elizabeth and invited her to dinner, which she accepted with alacrity.

We returned home via South Baddesley from where we could view the Isle of Wight in the distance,

and autumn scenes in the fields.

Beside the unnamed lane down which I walked lay moss covered fallen branches.

Gradually a jogger came into view running up the lane. Soon after he passed Jackie’s parked Modus, my Chauffeuse followed me down and picked me up.

As we neared Lymington I photographed a silhouetted tree line.

This evening we dined on succulent roast gammon; creamy mashed potato; piquant cauliflower cheese; crunchy carrots; and tender green beans, with which Elizabeth and I drank Chevalier de Fauvert Comté Tolosan Rouge 2019, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.